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Setting & Achieving Goals

Seth Godin on Why Winners Quit

What sets successful people apart is the ability to push hard when they’re onto a good thing, to give up when they’re on course to a dead end, and to know the difference between the two.

Monique Verduyn

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Seth Godin

Decide When to Quit

If quitting is going to be a strategic decision that enables you to make smart choices in the marketplace, then you should outline your quitting strategy before the discomfort sets in.

If you are in the middle of the Dip how do you know if it’s worth sticking it out until you make it to the other side?

The worst time to decide is when you’re in the middle of it. That’s my point: you need to decide in advance when you’re going to quit. Before you set out on a journey, figure out how much time and how many resources you’ll need.

You can figure this out by looking at the market, by looking at others, by understanding what it takes. If you don’t have resources enough to get through it, don’t start. But when you’re in pain and you’re stuck, of course you’re going to want to quit. That’s because the pressure is great and the benefits seem far away.

How do you know when it’s time to quit?

It’s time to quit when you’re in a cul-de-sac. It’s time to quit when there’s no asset being built, no progress to measure, no likelihood that today’s effort will increase tomorrow’s opportunity. On the other hand, if you’re meeting people, earning trust, gaining skills … those things indicate that this isn’t a dead end, just a long Dip. And it might be long indeed.

What do you do if you can’t quit?

Other than prison, I’m not sure there are things you can’t quit.

Quitting is not the same as failing. Can you explain why?

Quitting is something we do all the time. We quit sucking our thumb, we quit riding a tricycle, we quit going to school after we graduate. Failing is what happens when you set a goal and don’t reach it. The question on the table is: is succeeding at something beneficial enough to put in the resources it’s going to take to succeed?

If it’s not, quit now, while you have resources to invest in something else. On the other hand, quit too much and you’re a starter, not a finisher. My point is that you should have reachable goals, places you want to go where you will end up being the best in the world at what you do.

How do you determine whether to create a product or service when it’s something new and there is no established market for it?

Virtually all entrepreneurs enter markets where there is in fact a market. That’s human nature and it’s also smart. Competitors make it easier for customers to commit, because it’s an “either or”, not a “whether or not” question. Google didn’t invent search. They just made it work.

The Beatles didn’t invent rock and roll. They just took it to a new level. If you’re trying to do something completely from scratch, I applaud you and then I ask, “why?”

If you make it through the Dip, it’s likely that you’ll be stronger than your less committed competitors. Does this mean that entrepreneurs should look out for opportunities that are worthwhile, yet very demanding?

The Dip is your best friend! If there was no medical school, being a doctor would not be worth much, would it? Find Dips, power through them and then make sure they’re even bigger than when you found them.

How do you quit without sending a negative signal to the market?

I think it’s important to understand my point: if you are willing to quit, you’re actually less likely to quit, and certainly less likely to quit at precisely the wrong moment. You can’t quit in the middle of a project, or when a patient is on the table or when a client is depending on you. You quit when the work is easy and things are working, you don’t quit in the Dip.

How can the ability to quit be empowering?

Once you know you can walk away, you’re empowered to stay and make things better, empowered to see an opportunity, not drudgery.

In your opinion, do people tend to quit too soon, or do they keep trying for too long?

We quit the wrong things too soon, and the other wrong things too late.

Society has brainwashed us to believe we should stick out things involving institutions, so we waste huge amounts of time and money. On the other hand, entrepreneurs quit building their businesses years too soon, and it’s because they didn’t realise what they were signing up for and didn’t set aside enough resources.

Can you give an example of businesses that should have quit but did not and suffered as a result?

Microsoft has already wasted nearly $500 million on the Zune (an entertainment platform and portable media player). The company should have had the guts to quit after $10 million. Think of what they could have bought and developed online with $400 million.

The Best in the World

Anyone who is going to hire you, buy from you, recommend you, vote for you, or do what you want them to do is going to wonder if you’re the best choice. Best as in: best for them, right now, based on what they believe and what they know. In the world as in: their world, the world they have access to.

If you know that you are not going to be the best at something, is it worthwhile learning to do it?

Sure, if it’s enjoyable, sure if it makes your life happier. No, not if you don’t think you’re going to win in the market. Customers aren’t dumb. They buy the “best” when best means the best combination of price and quality and convenience and reputation. If you’re not the best for some customers, then why bother?

Not every plumber can be the best in the world. How does one define/delineate the area that you should be best in? Is it more about striving to do the best that you can, as an individual?

Of course a plumber can be the best in the world! My world. The world outside my house. The world of plumbers I can choose from has perhaps 100 choices, and I want the one who is talented, polite, clean and not stupidly expensive. And willing to come to my house right now.

If you can’t be the best in the world along those lines, you don’t exist as far as I’m concerned.

The Dip: a definition

Almost everything in life worth doing is controlled by the Dip. At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun. And then the Dip happens. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment. Successful people lean into the Dip. They push harder, changing the rules as they go.

The difference between Dips and Cul-de-Sacs

A cul-de-sac is simply a dead end, a situation that never changes. When you find one, get out of it fast. The opportunity cost of investing your life in something that’s not going to get better is just too high. The biggest obstacle to success in life is our inability to quit these curves soon enough.

Why does being number one matter?

Being at the top matters because there’s room at the top for only a few, says Godin. That’s the most important point he makes in The Dip: the Dip is a way of weeding out mediocrity and separating the winners from the losers.

Average is for Losers

The most common response to the Dip is to play it safe. To do ordinary work, blameless work, work that’s beyond reproach. When faced with the Dip most people suck it up and try to average their way to success.

You say that the temptation to be average is just another form of quitting. Why is it so bad to be mediocre?

Average means unnoticed, beyond reproach, easily defended, boring and unworthy of discussion. Companies pay people to be average. Consumers don’t.

Three Questions to Ask Before Quitting

Realising that quitting is worth your focus and consideration, says Seth Godin, is the first step to becoming the best in the world. The next step is to ask three questions:

1. Am I panicking?

Quitting is not the same as panicking. Quitting when you’re panicked is dangerous and expensive. The best quitters are the ones who decide in advance when they’re going to quit. When the pressure is greatest to compromise, to drop out, or to settle, your desire to quit should be at its lowest.

2. Who am I trying to influence?

Influencing a market – as opposed to an individual – is more like climbing a hill than scaling a wall. You can make progress one step at a time and it actually gets easier as you go. People in the market talk to each other. They are influenced by each other. So every step of progress you make actually gets amplified.

3. What sort of measurable progress am I making?

There are only three choices: you’re either moving forward, falling behind or standing still. To succeed, you’ve got to make some sort of forward progress, no matter how small.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Setting & Achieving Goals

How You Can Turn Those ‘Near Wins’ Into Successes

As a start-up, there’s nothing more devastating than losing a deal you thought was yours, or realising your great idea isn’t the game-changer you thought it was. But there’s an upside to those ‘near misses’ — they’re excellent opportunities to learn from and perfect your offering.

Tumi Menyatswe

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perseverance

By good fortune, I started my career in a commonly misunderstood and widely overlooked sub-sector within the aviation industry, load control. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know what that is. In simple terms, load control focuses on the safety of passengers and the weight and balance of an aircraft. The work ensures that the centre of gravity is always within certified limits and structural weight and balance restrictions are never exceeded. A huge responsibility, even for the trained and desensitised.

For most of us hyper-ambitious individuals, when we don’t get to ‘the top’ as per the initial plan, we tend to wonder whether it was even worth it to start our journey. We lose our centre of gravity. Being one of the two selected candidates (after a nationwide search with over 500 applicants) for a world-class management trainee programme and later moving on from that ‘fairly clear path to success’, I’d always felt like I had failed, and dismally.

Let me explain. The programme was aimed exclusively at nurturing new talent within Global Load Control. It was industry-specific, and when I secured such a coveted spot, I felt on top of the world — my path was clear. Except it wasn’t. I realised I wanted a different environment where I could get exposure to working with entrepreneurs, especially because by then I had spent time within the Cape Town start-up ecosystem. I knew exactly why I was moving on, but it still felt like I’d failed.

Here’s the harsh truth: Nearly winning is failure, but that’s okay. We learn from failure. I’ve established my own core values and I’ve dared to speak up and write my own narrative. I’ve learnt to own my purpose. The road hasn’t always been easy, but in hindsight, it’s definitely been worth it.

Creating a compelling need

I have an innate ability to choose industries that aren’t open to changing their status quo. I then intentionally challenge and critique how the systems in those industries have been operating. This means things rarely go my way. It’s the entrepreneurial mindset, whether you’re starting a business or employed, to question everything, and that’s my mantra — I always ask ‘why?’

The problem is that even though I know I have a solution my customers need, because I’m challenging the status quo, they don’t always see things my way.

Related: For Vusi Thembekwayo, Focus Leads To Big Wins

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learnt that understanding the reason behind the multiple ‘not yet’ and ‘nos’ from your ideal first customers is a gift. But in order for you to claim that gift, you have to be committed to the process of understanding your customer’s needs.

Multiple authors and experts will tell you that however good your product or service is, the simple truth is that no one will buy it if they don’t want it or don’t believe they need it. And you won’t be able to persuade anyone that they want or need to buy what you’re offering unless you clearly understand what it is your customers want.

One aspect that isn’t being sufficiently discussed, is the fact that committing to that process is going to be uncomfortable and even painful in some cases. Really digging into your customer’s business to the point that you can offer them a real solution that they need takes confidence, resilience, hard work and sometimes even a thick skin if your customer or prospect pushes back. You need to really believe in your solution — but you also need to be willing to change what isn’t working.

Entrepreneurs are people too, and let’s face it, no parent wants to hear that their baby (or business or business idea) is ugly. Nurturing a positive view of yourself, finding ways of developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience as an entrepreneur. And yes, that means that sometimes you have to face the truth and change what isn’t working in your business. When facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion because that terrible feeling of not winning at first will wear off, eventually.

Stimulation for further achievement and mastery

When we don’t complete projects perfectly, it can feel as though we’ve failed. However, ‘near wins’ are important steps in achieving our long-term goals. Near wins are almost, if not always, more important than actual wins, as they set in motion a constant pursuit of improvement. In her brilliant TED Talk Embrace the Near Win, Sarah Lewis deep dives into the concept of the near win and how it’s instrumental in achieving success.

I, like most people, have experienced my own set of near wins. According to Sarah, that’s okay, because failure is what we experience on the way to mastery. And mastery is ultimately more important than success. Sarah defines success as a single moment. Something that comes and goes and is a byproduct of effort. However, what she calls mastery, is the act of working towards something. A system for continuing to set and reach for goals. As I’ve personally learnt, being engaged in that system is a crucial element in mastering your goal. Purposeful efforts make life interesting.

Stay on your own leading edge

More will always be required of you. That’s a fact. Recovering from failure requires sufficient strength and an ability to support your sense of well-being while managing the stresses brought about by failure.

The trick is learning the art of bouncing back. The term most often used is resilience. The Road to Resilience, a publication of the American Psychological Association and the Discovery Health Channel, offers a useful definition. “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress — like family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. Find ways that are likely to work well for YOU as part of YOUR own personal strategy for fostering resilience and overcoming failure. Along pathways to success and mastery, entrepreneurs, change agents and leaders alike will find adversity, doubt, and near wins. How you manage those is what matters, so learn and adjust where necessary.”

Related: 3 Personality Traits You Need For Success: Grit, Determination And The Will To Succeed

One last thing I would like to stress is learning to cope with who you are as a person. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. I know it’s a cliché but it’s also essential to your overall well-being and success. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience. Protect your peace because you can’t possibly function in chaos. Remember this, the dark moments that will come will also pass, so focus on getting that shine on. Cheers to celebrating your next near win.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learnt that understanding the reason behind the multiple ‘not yet’ and ‘nos’ from your ideal first customers is a gift. But in order for you to claim that gift, you have to be committed to the process of understanding your customer’s needs.

Staying motivated

  1. It’s called ‘the entrepreneurial journey’ for a reason. It might take you a bit of time to see the value of some lessons and that’s okay, the light bulb will go on eventually.
  2. Accept that you don’t know everything. While you may start to build a business and it actually begins to work, don’t think that you’ve become a Mrs/Mr know-it-all. Continue to learn from your customers and the people around you
  3. It’s not all about you and your idea. Your business will exist because there’s a value exchange between yourself and your customer. Be very clear about what that value is and how you can keep improving on it
  4. Find a mentor. By that I mean someone who’s actually built a business and succeeded, not an entrepreneurship activist. Inspiring entrepreneurship activists are fine, but it helps to have a solid sounding board and that takes experience, and someone who has experienced failure themselves.
  5. Breathe. Starting a business is hard, growing one is hard and running one is hard. Doing this day in and day out can be exhausting. Remember to celebrate the small wins and avoid the notion that you have to land some fantastic, outstanding client or reach thousands of customers before celebrating. Rejoice over the first customer or transaction, or over squashing a minor coding bug in a few days.

WATCH THIS

Embrace the Near Win by Sarah Lewis

“My triumphs are not merely the result of a grand achievement, but of the propulsion of a lineage of near wins.”— Arctic explorer Ben Saunders

Sarah Lewis is an art historian and critic who celebrates creativity and shows how it can lead us through fear and failure to ultimate success

In her talk Embrace the Near Win, Sarah Lewis shares the following insights:

  • Success is a moment, but what we’re always celebrating is creativity and mastery. The secret is converting successes – big, small and near misses – into mastery. This starts with the value you give to a near win.
  • Success is achieving a specific goal, but mastery is knowing that it means nothing if you can’t do it again and again.
  • Mastery is not the same as excellence. It’s also not the same as success, which is an event, a moment in time, and a label that the world confers upon you. Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit.
  • In other words, the pursuit of mastery is an ever-onward almost.
  • Mastery is in the reaching, not the arriving. It’s in constantly wanting to close that gap between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Success motivates us, but a near win can propel us in an ongoing quest.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

6 Reasons Why Concrete Goals Are Essential To Entrepreneurial Success

Making dreams come true is a precise, step-by-step process.

Timothy Sykes

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Believe it – there is a right way and a wrong way to approach setting career goals. In a nutshell, the more specific your goals are, the better.

If your professional goals are nebulous, like “become rich” or “gain success,” you may be psyching yourself out without even realising what you’re doing. Setting specific goals gives you the motivation and focus to begin making them a reality.

Ready to readjust your goal setting methods?

Related: The 7-Step Formula For Goal-Setting

Here are just six reasons why you need to set specific goals to get ahead in your professional career to get ahead:

1. They keep you motivated

Setting specific goals allows you to get really clear on what you are working toward in your career and why.

For instance, if you have a vague goal like “Make more money,” it will supply similarly vague motivation. When you reach the first sign of resistance, that goal will seem unattainable and too hard, and you’ll be more likely to give up.

On the other hand, a specific goal like “Buy a condo in San Diego” is very specific and gives you something specific to work toward and to help you maintain motivation.

2. You’re more likely to achieve specific goals

Goal Setting Theory is the culmination of research that began in the 1960s by Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham. In researching the connection between clear goals and performance, they found that there was a relationship between how difficult and how specific a goal was and people’s performance of a task. Further, they discovered that specific and difficult goals led to better task performance than vague or easy goals.

Related: You Need This One Trait To Succeed In Reaching Your Goals

Basically, research shows that when you have specific long-term goals, you’re far more likely to perform better, which will ultimately make achieving said goals far more possible.

3. You can break big goals into mini goals

A benefit of setting specific goals is that you can then get tactical about how to make them a reality. Namely, you can break each goal down into mini goals or milestones.

Say that one of your goals is to increase sales for your business by 25 percent this year. You can set specific dollar amounts as milestones for each month or quarter.

Having mini goals like this will help you stay inspired and will give you an impetus to put specific actions in work to make them happen.

4. You can adjust as needed

gpsSpecific goals are kind of like a career roadmap.

However, just like your car’s GPS, sometimes you need to shift the destination for various reasons. It’s easier to shift or adjust a specific goal than it is to change a vague one.

For instance, say you are approaching your very specific goal at a more rapid rate than anticipated. To keep yourself motivated, you can look at that goal and adjust it to meet your current circumstances. This way, you always have something to work toward and can continue to push yourself in positive ways.

5. They will make you more confident

There’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment that comes from setting a specific goal, working hard and then finally attaining it. It makes you feel confident and secure in your own abilities.

Related: Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

When you’re imbued with this sense of self-accomplishment, it has the effect of making you feel more self-confident. Self-confidence can help you advance quicker in your career and improve your performance, which helps keep you working toward your goals with ease.

6. They make you more ambitious

Once you’ve set and then attained a few specific goals, you’ll believe in yourself even more. This means that as you progress in your career, your goals will become even bigger and more ambitious.

By continually setting specific goals and adjusting them to remain aspirational, you’ll create a powerful source of inspiration that will serve you throughout the course of your career and life.

Set specific goals from now on and you’ll see a big difference over time!

Related: Feel Like Quitting? These 9 Women Prove Grit Can Lead You To Massive Success

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

How You Can Do Big Things

The secret to achieving impossible dreams is accretion — slowly and steadily working towards your goals.

Erik Kruger

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line-in-the-sand

When you realise that accretion is about the accumulation of all the things that you do and all the decisions that you make, you start to see the importance of aligning everything in your life in the direction of your goals.

In 2005, four Navy Seals were sent on a mission to extract a high value target. Unfortunately, the mission didn’t go according to plan, leaving the Seals to fight for their lives. Three of them were killed in action. The other was shot, fell off a cliff, and in the process shattered his back and legs. He also bit off half of his tongue, and endured multiple gunshot wounds.

Yet, despite the fact that he couldn’t walk, he managed to crawl 11 kms to a nearby village and to safety.

When he was asked how he did it he said that he took a stone in his hand, stretched his arm out in front of him and drew a line in the sand. All he wanted to do was get across that line.

As soon as he managed to drag his feet across the line, he drew a new one. In fact, he kept drawing lines and crossing them for 11 kms.

Related: Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

That is how he did the impossible. One line in the sand at a time.

The Paradox

Motivational speakers love telling us to take big actions; to think and act big. Although I can appreciate the sentiment, and sometimes it’s apt, I think that it often has a counterproductive effect.

It scares people. It implies that there is also the possibility for massive failure. But it’s not just about the actual failure of a project or business. It’s the internal dialogue that goes with it.

The inner voice that starts telling you that you aren’t good enough. That you shouldn’t even try. I’m sure you can relate. We all have a judger inside us that rears its head when we are trying to do meaningful things. That criticises every move and decision. The judger has a great ability to prevent us from taking any action at all. Let alone massive action.

The Way

It’s for this reason that I always encourage entrepreneurs to simply focus on the line in front of them.

Keep in mind the direction you want to move in, and the goal you would like to achieve, and then start by crossing that first small line. And when you’ve done that, cross the second.

As you continue, you pick up momentum. Your actions become bolder because you become more confident.

Soon you find yourself taking bigger and bigger decisions and actions.

But they were born from the thousands of small decisions and actions that you took before.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

Accretion

I talk about this principle often.Accretion is the accumulation of all of your compounding efforts, small wins, abilities, knowledge, and experiences. Over time this process accumulates and perpetuates what you feed into it.

When you realise that accretion is about the accumulation of all the things that you do and all the decisions that you make, you start to see the importance of aligning everything in your life in the direction of your goals.

The reason I am writing to you today is because of the body of work that I have accumulated through the writing of my daily email. An email that has gone out more than 580 times. Every day without missing a beat.

It’s my line in the sand that I cross every day. And the result of it has not simply been an accumulation of 580 emails. It has been a successful business, the opportunity to become a coach, to speak on stages with well-known businessmen, and write this column for Entrepreneur magazine.

Remember that consistency breeds success.

I’d much rather bet on the guy who consistently executes well than the guy who hits a home-run every now and then.

Draw a line in the sand.

Cross it.

Then tomorrow, do it again.

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